Lawmakers Renew Push to Place Harriet Tubman on $20 Bill

Lawmakers are reviving efforts to ensure that Harriet Tubman is on the $20 bill.US Representatives Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) authored the Harriet Tubman Tribute Act of 2019. The members of Congress issued a statement on May 7 that urged the Trump administration to change the $20 bill, which currently features President Andrew Jackson.

“When it was announced that Harriet Tubman’s likeness would appear on the redesign of the 20, it was an inspirational moment for women and girls, and the African American community,” the legislators said in a joint statement. “We are very concerned that the administration is stalling this historic effort. We urge the administration to follow through and expedite the redesign of the 20.”

“In lieu of progress by the Treasury Department, we hope Congress will pass the Harriet Tubman Tribute Act of 2019 to make it clear in statute that the redesign of the 20 must honor Harriet Tubman and in a timely fashion,” the statement continued. “Harriet Tubman’s fight for equality and freedom embodies the American spirit and she deserves to be featured beside our founding fathers. Our currency should finally reflect the important role women, and women of color, have played in our nation’s history.”

In 2016, the Obama administration announced that Tubman — an African American abolitionist who escaped enslavement and helped free hundreds — would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Former Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said he wanted to add more women and Civil Rights leaders to other currency notes, including the $5 and $10 bills, according to The New York Times. In 2017, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that putting Tubman on the $20 bill was not something he was considering at the moment.

“People have been on the bills for a long period of time,” Mnuchin said. “This is something we’ll consider. Right now we’ve got a lot more important issues to focus on.”

President Donald Trump said that he did not want to replace Jackson, according to The New York Times. “I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can maybe come up with another denomination,” Trump reportedly said in April 2016. Cummings and Katko have introduced the Harriet Tubman Tribute Act in 2015, 2017, and in February. The bill encourages Mnuchin to print Tubman on the $20 Federal Reserve notes after December 31, 2020.

“Too often, our nation does not do enough to honor the contributions of women in American history, especially women of color. Placing Harriet Tubman on our US currency would be a fitting tribute to a woman who fought to make the values enshrined in our Constitution a reality for all Americans,” Cummings previously said. “Harriet Tubman was called the Moses of her people, because after she escaped slavery, she courageously made 19 trips to the South to free more than 300 enslaved African Americans. Her courage, conviction, and commitment to equality represent the best of America and it is long past time we recognize her place in history.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.